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  1. #1
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    Learning music notation

    Hey guys. Can anyone recommend software or an online resource to help me learn to read and write music?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    I learn by using a pencil and staff paper plus a workbook full of exercises that gets you writing. You will learn faster if you write things down in my opinion.
    "If I don't practice for a day, I know it... for two days, the critics know it... three days, the public knows it." -- Louis Armstrong

  4. #3
    Here's a great little book for learning simple rhythmic subdivisions and notes in the open position:

    http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Sight-Re.../dp/0786649895

    I find students get through it pretty quickly and it's a useful prelude to books such as The Leavitt Reading Studies for Guitar series that already assume some skill in the area.

    Smokinguit's recommendation is a good one. Be active about the process as you'll end up having to find solutions for things that would otherwise just be presented to you.

    Once you've got the basics down, you might want to work slowly through some of Bach's violin pieces. Single lines, lots of notes but with pretty regular subdivisions. I played through arrangements of his Lute Suites as a teenager and that made a huge difference. For getting a grip on rhythms and particularly syncopation, there are the Leavitt Melodic Rhythms and Bugs Bower Rhythms Complete books or even Louis Bellson's Modern Reading Text if you want to deal with rhythm in isolation. That said, I remember reading that Charlie Baty, ex-Little Charlie and the Nightcats just jumped straight in with Parker heads as that's what he wanted to play. Learning doesn't always follow a straight line!

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokinguit View Post
    I learn by using a pencil and staff paper plus a workbook full of exercises that gets you writing. You will learn faster if you write things down in my opinion.
    That would've been my guess too. I can read notation, of the treble clef, at a very basic level but certainly don't feel confident beyond that. I've heard that practicing writing will help my reading too.

  6. #5
    The Rhythms Complete book mentioned by PMB above is good.

    The reviews here are informative
    http://www.amazon.com/Rhythms-Comple.../dp/B002OX5DX0
    Last edited by mrcee; 07-10-2015 at 11:11 AM.

  7. #6
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    I learned from this book.

  8. #7
    One thing that helps is to write down melodies and tunes that you know well. It helps strengthen the connection between what you see & what you hear.

  9. #8
    There is also an app for that :-D

    Try 'Music Theory Helper' and 'Music Sight Reader'.

    They helped me and it's nice that you can use them while on the go. I do a 20 minute bus ride every morning and gives me enough time to do some excersices.

  10. #9
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    Get a software program like Sibelius First and learn to write arrangements of songs you like. Simply the best way to hone your skills once you learn the basics of reading notation. I learned that back when I was twelve. Once you know how to read, reading and writing notation daily is the ultimate way to hone your skills. Standard notation software is a godsend once you master the technical side.

  11. #10
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    I'd recommend this one before going onto study based stuff:

    Melodic Studies and Compositions for Guitar - Guitar Study - Sheet Music & Songbooks - Musicroom.com

    It's more methodical than the William Leavitt book's, which are of course just studies not methodical as such, and quite fit for purpose.

  12. #11
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    http://www.risingsoftware.com/auralia/ or just playing simple tunes in a real book, its how i learned/am learning

  13. #12
    I tried learning notation when I was in secondary school, playing guitar and steel guitar: some of the music teachers were extraordinarily helpful at that point giving me bits and pieces of music they enjoyed to help me get started. But as my main way of getting music off the paper into my head was via lead sheets and tablature, it didn't really sink in. I found my feet in notation when I started learning the violin, because I didn't have any crutches to lean on - I had to read the notes onto the violin fingerboard whether I liked it or not.

    I'm not suggesting that people learn the violin to learn notation, though it is a lot of fun, but stripping away the crutches - total immersion if you like, the same as in language school - gets you working to make things happen, makes you remember, makes your fingers go places, etc.

    Same thing for writing music - the first thing I'd say you need is to work out the beats and the rhythm, and then the melody. Once you've got the rhythm and the strong and weak beats of the piece you're working on sorted out, then you can write anything.

    Have fun!

  14. #13
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    writing music (as in pen and paper with your hands) is almost a lost art. It is a shame because if you ever take the time to write something out by hand, you will never forget it.

    I learned the skill of music copying from my friend's dad, who was a bandleader back in the 50s. Mr Koeller had all these great old tune books in his basement, but he never let them leave the house. He let us copy by hand all the tunes we wanted, but the tune books had to stay in his house. So being kids, we'd have a sleepover and be downstairs spinning sides and copying tunes into the wee hours

    I learned how to lay out a page so that all the bars are evenly spaced and learned a lot of music copying conventions.

    Like why you always tie between the "and" of 2 and 3

    and why you notate things in 4/4 whenever possible regardless of whether its actually technically in 4

    why you always use flats instead of sharps

    that sort of stuff

  15. #14
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    I don't miss it much, however. I love using notation software. So many things one can do with it and the page is legible. Love rehearsing to the arrangements I create, especially of originals. Much easier to capture inspiration when it is hot.

  16. #15
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    well, if you have a steady hand and a good pen handwritten parts can still be pretty readable. I used to make extra cash in music school writing out parts for people's orchestration and arranging classes. You actually used to have to hire a copyist or be able to do it yourself to write out horn parts and stuff like that

    but I know that everybody likes the score writing software today, so I don't expect to ever be asked to copy parts again

    its just one more thing to throw on the pile of things I do that people don't bother with anymore

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Nate Miller View Post
    well, if you have a steady hand and a good pen handwritten parts can still be pretty readable. I used to make extra cash in music school writing out parts for people's orchestration and arranging classes. You actually used to have to hire a copyist or be able to do it yourself to write out horn parts and stuff like that

    but I know that everybody likes the score writing software today, so I don't expect to ever be asked to copy parts again

    its just one more thing to throw on the pile of things I do that people don't bother with anymore
    I agree it is a lost art. but I've noticed there are a lot of people that still hand write over using software

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick1994 View Post
    I agree it is a lost art. but I've noticed there are a lot of people that still hand write over using software
    that's always good to hear

    I always felt that writing something out by hand helped me remember things. Its not the same typing.

    I think that's why I always liked writing out a transcription by hand. It stuck with me better when I was playing

  19. #18
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    I play piano well enough to play the parts in very carefully. Sibelius is very strict about time, and while there is an optional setting to account for poor timing, I never use it as it makes notation in real time more difficult. But you have to play very mechanistically and on top of the beat to get good notation the first time through.

    I sketch out chords and measures with lyrics often just to record, but the old fashion write it out, not much any more.

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by targuit View Post
    I play piano well enough to play the parts in very carefully. Sibelius is very strict about time, and while there is an optional setting to account for poor timing, I never use it as it makes notation in real time more difficult. But you have to play very mechanistically and on top of the beat to get good notation the first time through.

    I sketch out chords and measures with lyrics often just to record, but the old fashion write it out, not much any more.

    I remember I used to use Cakewalk, and I could set the quantization so that I could play and get 8th notes.

    The apps that lets you hook up a MIDI keyboard to write with are pretty nice. I've used some freeware ones that took input from the mouse and keyboard that actually were a bigger PITA than writing the stuff out long hand

  21. #20
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    There is a learning curve with notation software. My vast experience - just my legacy $60 Sibelius G7 I bought many years ago. I kept finding it annoying that the software was not engraving the rhythms properly when I would input in 'real time' the notes with my synth keyboard via USB to the computer. Until it dawned on me that I was playing songs with natural 'swing', which Sibelius would notate that way precisely. I had to discipline myself to eliminate any such rhythmic tendency and play very mechanistically to get decent notation from the reader's pov the first time around.

    I often wonder if they have improved that issue, but in retrospect they should have suggested that to the user in their manuals. But once I got it through my thick skull, the usefulness of the software became evident. I love using it - invaluable tool.

  22. #21
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    Here's what helped me. Decide on a notation program, Finale, Sibelius, Musescore...

    Once you have it installed, find a chart (Real Book, songbook, whatever) and try to make an exact duplicate of it, including all text, copyright marks, etc. I did that for a few charts and it helped a lot.

    YMMV.
    Last edited by Dana; 02-10-2016 at 10:25 AM.
    Check out my new book, Essential Skills for the Guitarist on Amazon.

  23. #22
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    Nate...PEN and paper..your far braver than I..PENCIL with an eraser is a necessity for me (its an .07 mechanical-so I am kind of in the modern world)..I will write out tunes and exercises that I hear..and see how close I come to realize the results..getting your ear eye and head in the same place at the same time can be a challenge..

    hearing and writing rhythmic patterns is a very good way to increase melodic variation using just a few notes..writing out a melodic line within a given key brings the value of each note into focus..going away from the tonic or to it and which notes to use becomes easier the more you do it..and you can actually come up with some very nice melodic passages in the process..

    I bring my notebook to the coffee bar where I hang out..very often I hear.."...you WRITE music?!.." I look around the café and do notice that almost everyone is attached to a laptop or some other device..so pencil and paper might seem like looking back in time to some..
    Last edited by wolflen; 02-06-2016 at 10:06 PM.
    play well ...
    wolf

  24. #23
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    no, really, its better with a pen. They make Sharpies with the right shape point even. You want a flat and a fine line. when you make the note heads there's a sort of twist of the wrist with the flat that makes a nice oval note head. You can actually read it when you put it on a stand, too.

    besides, the mental discipline of not effing it all up is good for a musician

  25. #24
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    I bring my notebook to the coffee bar where I hang out..very often I hear.."...you WRITE music?!.." I look around the café and do notice that almost everyone is attached to a laptop or some other device..so pencil and paper might seem like looking back in time to some..


    I write a lot ... I mean texts... and I used to write by hand but today it takes to much time to re-type it besides I myself cannot read my hand-writing the next day... so I switched to typewriter...
    you can scan it after all

    Though I belong to quite a 'computer generation'... I cannot really write at the computer.. Even when I edit texts I print it out and edit with pen - if I have to put something in.. I use glue...

    I like the feel of blank paper to be filled with black letters... and once you write or type it it's there... it's a little step you do...
    you cannot just make backspace and it's gone like never existed...



  26. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post

    you cannot just make backspace and it's gone like never existed...


    [/I][/COLOR]

    you'll never know how huge a break-through liquid paper really was

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